FOR THE CONSUMER
The FTC's monthly newsletter for the Congressional community
It's the news you - and your constituents - can use.
Volume 6 - Number 12
IN THIS ISSUE
ID THEFT. The FTC has released a survey showing that 8.3 million American adults, or 3.7 percent of all American adults, were victims of identity theft in 2005. Of the victims, 3.2 million, or 1.4 percent of the nation's adults, experienced misuse of their existing credit card accounts; 3.3 million, or 1.5 percent, experienced misuse of non-credit card accounts; and 1.8 million victims, or 0.8 percent, found that new accounts were opened or other frauds were committed using their personal identifying information. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/11/idtheft.shtm.
DNC CASES — $7.7 MILLION. The FTC has settled its charges against Craftmatic Industries, Inc., ADT Security Services, and Ameriquest Mortgage Company, and others for allegedly violating requirements of the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry. The six settlements collectively impose nearly $7.7 million in civil penalties and bring to 34 the number of cases filed by the FTC to enforce the DNC provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/11/dncpress.shtm.
SUPERMARKET SPIN-OFF: The FTC preserved competition among supermarkets in Staten Island and Long Island, New York, by challenging the merger of Atlantic & Pacific Team Company, Inc. (A&P) and Pathmark stores. The FTC said consumers in these highly concentrated areas of New York would face higher prices and reduced services when shopping for their groceries if the merger were allowed to go through as proposed. The FTC is requiring A&P and Pathmark to sell off five supermarkets in Staten Island and one supermarket in Shirley, Long Island, to FTC-approved buyers. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/11/pathwork.shtm.
DEBT COLLECTOR. A Texas-based debt collection company will pay more than $1.3 million to settle FTC charges that its managers and employees used abusive tactics against consumers in violation of federal law. According to the FTC, collectors for LTD Financial Services, L.P. falsely threatened to garnish consumers’ wages, seize their property, and sue them, and inconvenienced them by calling at work and disclosing the existence of debts to family members, employers, co-workers, and neighbors. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/11/debtcol.shtm.
IT’S EASY BEING GREEN. The FTC is reviewing its "Green Guides," which outline general principles for all environmental marketing claims and provide specifics about claims for degradabilty, compostability, recyclability, recycled content, and ozone safety. The initial comment period on the Green Guides closes February 11, 2008. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/11/enviro.shtm.
NEW ONLINE TUTORIAL. The FTC has a new online tutorial to alert businesses and other organizations to practical and low- or no-cost ways to keep data secure. The tutorial, "Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business," at www.ftc.gov/infosecurity, takes a plain-language interactive approach to the security of sensitive information. Although the specifics depend on the size of a company and the kind of information it keeps, the basic principles are the same: any business or office that keeps personal information needs to take stock, scale down, lock it, pitch it, and plan ahead. The tutorial, which combines live-action video with animated backgrounds, explains each of these principles, and includes checklists of steps to take to improve data security. Check out the tutorial, brochures, slide presentations and articles on information security at www.ftc.gov/infosecurity.
BY THE NUMBERS. The FTC will host a public workshop, "Security in Numbers: SSNs and ID Theft," to discuss the various uses of SSNs by the private sector, the necessity of those uses, alternatives, the challenges faced by the private sector in moving away from using SSNs, and how SSNs are obtained and used by identity thieves. The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be held December 10 and 11, 2007, at the FTC’s Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC. A government-issued photo ID is required for entry. The workshop will be webcast.
Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/10/ssnworkshop.shtm.
GREEN GUIDES WORKSHOP. As part of its "Green Guides" review, the FTC will hold a public workshop on January 8, 2008, to address the marketing of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates (RECs). Carbon offsets fund projects designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to counterbalance or "offset" emissions that occur elsewhere. The workshop will explore advertising claims about, consumer perceptions of, substantiation for, and self-regulation of these products. The workshop will take place on January 8, 2008 from 9 am to 5 pm at the FTC’s Conference Center at 601 New Jersey Ave NW, in Washington, DC. The public comment period for the workshop closes January 25, 2008. Press release: www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/11/enviro.shtm.
TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY: IDENTITY THEFT SPAWNS NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES TO HELP MINIMIZE RISK. Publication to help consumers evaluate whether they should initiate fraud alerts or credit freezes or invest in commercial identity theft prevention products and services such as credit monitoring. 8.5"x11", 4 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/idtheft/idt05.shtm.
PUTTING TELEPHONE SCAMS...ON HOLD. Explains how telemarketing scams work, and how to protect yourself. Also outlines your rights under the Telemarketing Sales Rule. 4"x9", 12 pages, color. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/telemarketing/tel12.shtm.
LOS PAGOS DE SU HIPOTECA LO ESTÁN HACIENDO TAMBALEAR? ESTO ES LO QUE USTED PUEDE HACE. (Mortgage Payments Sending You Reeling? Here's What to Do) For consumers who may be having trouble paying their mortgage. Explains options to help save their homes, and how to recognize and avoid foreclosure scams. 8.5"x11", 4 pages. www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/homes/srea04.shtm.
- Check out the seller. If it’s your first time on an unfamiliar site, call the seller’s phone number, so you know you can reach them if you need to.
- Read return policies. Some retailers offer shorter return windows for certain products and some charge "restocking" fees. Find out who covers shipping.
- Know what you’re getting. Read the seller’s product description closely. Named-brand items at greatly reduced prices could be counterfeit.
- Don’t fall for a false email or pop-up. Legitimate companies don’t send unsolicited email messages asking for your password, login name, or financial information, but scammers do.
- Secure your computer. At a minimum, your computer should have anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a firewall. Update your security software regularly to help protect against the latest threats.
For more tips on safe online shopping, visit www.onguardonline.gov/holidayshopping.html.
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